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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2008 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: September 2, 2008
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Tier 1
Jason Witten - DAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 12%
2005 DAL 16 66 757 11.5 6      
2006 DAL 16 64 754 11.8 1      
2007 DAL 16 96 1145 11.9 7      
Avg   16 75 885 11.7 5 0 0 0
Proj DAL   92 1100   8      

Any concerns about how Jason Garrett’s new offense would use Witten were quickly answered when he caught 29 passes for 407 yards and four scores in just the first five games. Witten ended with a career high 96 catches (second in the NFL) for 1145 yards and seven scores (again, second in the NFL). He even had four games over 100 yards. The new offense didn’t need a complementary wideout to Terrell Owens. It just used Witten.

Witten’s forecast this year should call for much of the same. The same players are on the team other than Felix replacing Julius Jones and the Cowboys, yet again, have plenty of motivation after another quick exit from the playoffs. While the passing numbers for Tony Romo decreased later in the season, they never did for Witten who had 31 catches in just the last four games including a 15 catch game in Detroit. He’s in his prime in the offense that relies heavily on him.

Kellen Winslow - CLE YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 12%
2005                  
2006 CLE 16 89 875 9.8 3      
2007 CLE 16 82 1106 13.5 5      
Avg   16 86 991 11.7 4 0 0 0
Proj CLE   85 890   5      

(-Risk) Winslow underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason but at least this time it was not a knee reconstruction. He is expected to be fine for all required minicamps and training camp and comes off a career best season of 1106 yards and five scores. That’s 3rd best in the NFL in yardage among tight ends and only Tony Gonzalez had more passes thrown to him in 2007 than Winslow did. In a year with big passing numbers for tight ends, Winslow was one of the big four and a big value to those who drafted him.

One of the factors that scared people off last season was the lengthy injury history that left Winslow with only 32 starts over the last four years. Winslow is also pushing for a renegotiated contract despite having three years left on his current one. Speculation is that Winslow wants a renegotiation of his contract because he knows that his career will end early because of the knee surgeries. As he himself has said, he is not 100% from what he was but that’s still better than most any tight end out there. When the Browns moved up in the draft to select Martin Rucker with their second pick (4.12) it was because the Browns are worried about Winslow’s knees. And Winslow is only 25 years old.

Considering the number of passes and catches that Winslow had last year, five scores is lower than normal but he did turn in three games over 100 yards. Of some concern too is that Winslow started out on a hot streak with an average of 79 yards per game through week 12 but then tailed off without any scores and only around 46 yards on average over the final five games. In 2006, he never scored after week eight and only averaged around 45 yards per game for the final seven weeks. By the stats, it appears that he wears down starting around the middle of the season and has tailed off right during fantasy playoffs in both of the years that he has been able to play. Winslow is productive but he will always be a risk with those knees. And –he has been getting worse when you would need him most.

Antonio Gates - SDC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 12%
2005 SDC 15 89 1101 12.4 10      
2006 SDC 16 71 924 13.0 9      
2007 SDC 16 75 984 13.1 9      
Avg   16 78 1003 12.8 9 0 0 0
Proj SDC   70 760   7      

(-Risk) One of the biggest training camp watches will be Gates and even then, the information may be speculation more than facts. Gates comes off yet another great season with 75 catches for 984 yards and nine touchdowns that were #2 among all tight ends. But he injured his foot which initially was called a dislocated toe but later was revealed to be a torn plantar plate. Gates underwent surgery in February with a recovery time of four to six months. There is no certainty that Gates will be 100% for training camp or even by the start of the season.

The team stance is that he will be ready to play in September at worst case but there he will be a major concern until he actually lines up and turns in a big game. That risk has to drop his draft stock and he’ll be one of the highest risk/reward players this summer. Until he shows up healthy, the best assumption is that he either misses or plays sparingly in the first month of the season and then returns to form.

Tony Gonzalez - KCC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 10%
2005 KCC 16 78 905 11.6 2      
2006 KCC 15 73 900 12.3 5      
2007 KCC 16 99 1172 11.8 5      
Avg   16 83 992 11.9 4 0 0 0
Proj KCC   85 870   5      

Gonzalez comes off one of the better years in his career with league leading stats for NFL tight ends last year. He was thrown 154 passes, caught 99 and gained 1172 yards – all tops in the league. He’s 32 years old this year and hasn’t slowed down other than his longest catch being a career low 31 yards. He has only missed one game in the last eight years. He’s been above 900 yards in each of the last five seasons. His touchdowns have apparently leveled off at five per season for the last two years but what’s not to like about the most productive tight end in the history of the NFL? There could be one thing – his quarterback this year. Damon Huard is not being used as a starter during minicamps and was the subject of trade speculation. Even HC Herm Edwards alluded to being comfortable going into the season with only Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen and some unknown youngster to be named later. Not Huard. This is significant because in the games that Huard started, Gonzalez caught about seven passes and gained around 84 yards. Huard threw four of his five touchdowns. In five games started by Brodie Croyle, Gonzo averaged about five catches for 50 yards and just the one score. If Thigpen ends up the starter – who knows what to expect?

Gonzalez deserves to be one of the first tight ends selected and he will be heavily used. Chan Gailey did not use tight ends much when he was leading the Cowboys but that was when they had very little talent to use. And even then, David LaFleur managed 35 catches for 322 yards and seven scores one year. So the only question is if Gonzo will have just a good year or a great year? At 32 years old and with likely a worse quarterback situation, you cannot rely on more than just “good”.

Tier 2
Todd Heap - BAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 5%
2005 BAL 16 75 855 11.4 7      
2006 BAL 16 73 765 10.5 6      
2007 BAL 6 23 239 10.4 1      
Avg   13 57 620 10.8 5 0 0 0
Proj BAL   70 780   6      

Heap comes off his worst season since his rookie year with only 239 yards and one score over six games. Heap suffered what was later disclosed as a torn hamstring but he has resumed training in the offseason and is expected to be healthy for training camp. In a season with a new offense, new coaches and potentially a new rookie quarterback, it may seem optimistic to expect his usual 800 yards and six scores. Then again – he may exceed that if he proves healthy. Cam Cameron brings in the same offense that bred Antonio Gates and Heap is only 28 and has several good seasons ahead of him.

The new offense and the use of Kyle Boller until Flacco is ready should spell at least a decent season if not a very good one. When installing a new offense, it is not unusual for teams to rely more heavily on the tight end initially anyway and Boller has always relied on Heap. When a quarterback gets his first starts of the season, he often relies on the tight end as well. Heap will be forgotten by some after his horrible 2007 showing but he is as talented as almost any tight end in the league and now gets a very tight end friendly offense. Heap should prove to be a very nice value pick in drafts this year – as long as his hamstring is healed.

Chris Cooley - WAS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 5%
2005 WAS 16 71 774 10.9 7      
2006 WAS 16 57 734 12.9 6      
2007 WAS 16 66 786 11.9 8      
Avg   16 65 765 11.9 7 0 0 0
Proj WAS   60 680   7      

Cooley comes off his standard good year with 66 catches for 786 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s had roughly the same numbers for the last three seasons and never had less than six scores even as a rookie in 2004. He ranked #3 among all tight ends in touchdowns last year. The questions for 2008 is how will HC Jim Zorn’s new offense change the remarkably consistent Cooley and will the rookie Fred Davis pose any threat to reducing Cooley’s catches?

The plus to Cooley is that he is easily the player that Jason Campbell looks for in the end zone. No other receiver had more than three scores for the Skins last year. His fantasy value should be propped up with those touchdowns in the worst case and he is expected to have a significant role in the offense. With all the new receivers, he could end up with no big increase this year but his chemistry with Campbell should manage to keep him solid in fantasy terms. He is likely to have more action early in the year than later when the new passing game and players start to come together, so have other options just in case.

Jeremy Shockey - NOS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 4%
2005 NYG 15 65 891 13.7 7      
2006 NYG 15 66 623 9.4 7      
2007 NYG 14 57 619 10.9 3 1 6  
Avg   15 63 711 11.3 6 0 2 0
Proj NOS   68 790   5      

(-Risk) Apparently all the Giants needed to be a world champion was to lose their best two stars of Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey. Though he played through week 15, Shockey suffered a fractured fibula and was lost for the season. He already was having one of the worst seasons of his career with 619 yards on 57 catches and only three scores. He was replaced by the rookie Kevin Boss who had two scores in just the last three games. Shockey had been pretty consistent with around 700 yards per season and six or seven scores until last year. He has also been very consistent with getting injured since his six year career has yet to produce a 16 game season.

Shockey was the subject of heated trade talks with the New Orleans Saints that never materialized and that have been said to be closed since May. Shockey is a hard-nosed, determined player that is not adverse to talking badly about his team or situation. His absence in the huddle was said to have actually been a plus for Manning. Barring renewing trade talks, Shockey is back for 2009 and is signed through 2011.
,br> Boss was impressive in replacing Shockey but he was not much of a factor during the playoffs other than as a blocker. Shockey will likely see a small decrease in passes this year since the rushing game was impressive with Bradshaw and Jacobs and Shockey is not fan of blocking though he will do it. And as always, how many games does he miss this year? Usually just one per season and he plays hurt in several others. And the emotional Shockey plays knowing the Giants tried hard to get rid of him.

07-21-08 Update: Shockey was traded to the Saints in exchange for a second nad a fifth round draft pick next year. He brings an immediate expansion to the offense in New Orleans which has never used the tight end position much as a receiver. The trade gives Drew Brees a new target that comes in addition to, and not in place of, the weapons he used last year.

Dallas Clark - IND YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 4%
2005 IND 14 37 488 13.2 4      
2006 IND 12 30 367 12.2 4      
2007 IND 15 58 616 10.6 11 2 29  
Avg   14 42 490 12.0 6 1 10 0
Proj IND   44 590   8      

Finally in his fifth season, Clark delivered everything that the Colts hoped for when he caught 58 passes for 616 yards and led all NFL tight ends with 11 touchdowns. Clark had only scored 14 times in the four previous years combined. The absence of Marvin Harrison left Peyton Manning looking for a new target and Clark was the one standing near the goal line. Clark never was big on yardage with only four games over 60 yards and he never exceeded 95 yards in any game but he scored in nine different games including twice in three different match-ups.

Clark was always better at home where he scored eight times and had all three multiple touchdown games. He never developed into a “pseudo-wideout” with lots of catches and yards, he just excelled at being there for Manning when the end zone was close. The problem with relying on him for your fantasy team is that many weeks he served up minimal efforts like the six times he had less than 30 yards and no score. He is not nearly as consistent as other top fantasy tight ends because his value relied heavily on those touchdowns. The same was true in 2006 when he only had four touchdowns and other than two nice yardage games, he was only an average tight end.

Clark is still a solid choice for tight end but will likely be drafted too early by fantasy teams relying on him scoring all those touchdowns again instead of recognizing his much less - and more inconsistent – yardage as a tight end.

Randy McMichael - STL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 MIA 16 60 582 9.7 5      
2006 MIA 16 62 640 10.3 3      
2007 STL 16 39 429 11.0 3      
Avg   16 54 550 10.3 4 0 0 0
Proj STL   65 760   5      

(+Upside) McMichael came over from the Dolphins last year and thanks to the Rams offensive scheme, he turned in the worst season of his six-year NFL career. He only had 39 catches for 429 yards and three scores which was higher than any Rams tight end had done in many years thanks to Mike Martz, but it was still a little worse than even McMichael’s rookie season. The introduction of new OC Al Saunders offense this year will provide McMichael with a great chance to turn in his best season ever. This is the same offense that allowed Tony Gonzalez to become one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history and one that views the tight end position on equal terms with the wide receivers.

As Saunders is quick to point out, he has coached a Pro Bowl tight end for eight years straight and made Chris Cooley into the main passing target in Washington the last couple of seasons. While it is difficult to envision a top fantasy tight end in St. Louis after so many years of being one of the worst teams in using the position, get over that mindset. McMichael will see more passes this year than any before and returns to being a fantasy starter this year. In most leagues he will last just because of 2007 but he has the opportunity to be a top ten if not a top five tight end this year. The Rams will throw to him and Bulger can reduce his sacks with quicker throws to McMichael instead of waiting for Holt and company to get open farther down the field. Using McMichael more is just what Bulger needs.

Owen Daniels - HOU YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2005                  
2006 HOU 13 34 350 10.3 5      
2007 HOU 16 63 768 12.2 3      
Avg   15 49 559 11.3 4 0 0 0
Proj HOU   74 740   5      

In only his second season, Daniels enjoyed a solid showing last year when he caught 63 passes for 768 yards and three scores. His average of 12.2 yards per catch is among the highest for tight ends and there’s a very good reason why Daniels could increase his totals next year – Matt Shaub.

Schaub only played in full games seven times last year thanks to a concussion and shoulder problem. When Schaub was not the full game starter, Daniels averaged around three catches for 35 yards per game. When Schaub was the starter for all four quarters, Daniels caught over five passes per game for around 64 yards. Roughly twice as good with Schaub as without him. And Daniels is only entering his third season. If you can reach Daniels as a back-up tight end, you should smile and even as a starter you should get decent points from your tight end. Daniels has nice upside this year that may not be immediately apparent.

L.J. Smith - PHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 PHI 16 61 682 11.2 3      
2006 PHI 15 50 611 12.2 5      
2007 PHI 10 22 236 10.7 1      
Avg   14 44 510 11.4 3 0 0 0
Proj PHI   55 680   5      

Smith had the franchise tag slapped on him and signed the one-year tender for $4.5 million. That means he is in a contract year and is playing towards his payday in 2009. He comes off a down year with only 22 catches for 236 yards and one score but was hampered by groin and knee injuries last year and missed six games and was less than healthy in several others. But Smith is a target that Donovan McNabb likes to rely on. He had 50 catches for 611 yards and five scores in 2006 and 61 receptions for 682 yards and three scores the previous season.

Smith is not injury prone and 2007 was the first time in his five year career that he battled injuries and missed games. He should – McNabb willing – be good for the standard 650 yards and four scores again this year and could do more since he needs to show up for a bigger pay day. He isn’t a difference maker at fantasy tight end, but he won’t hurt your team either as long as he remains healthy.

Zach Miller - OAK YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006                  
2007 OAK 16 44 444 10.1 3      
Avg   16 44 444 10.1 3 0 0 0
Proj OAK   65 660   5      

The Raiders took Miller with their 2.06 pick of 2007 for one reason – to be a receiving tight end. His rookie season was more successful than most with 44 catches for 444 yards and three scores and Miller had at least one catch in every game. There are two reasons why you should expect Miller to take the next step up in 2008. First, he was successful as a rookie on a bad team and enters his second season when most tight ends experience their break out years. Secondly, he only played in one game where JaMarcus Russell was the starting quarterback and turned in his best game of the year with eight catches for 84 yards and the only NFL touchdown that Russell has ever thrown. No other receiver had more than two catches in that finale against the Chargers. Too early to call him a starting fantasy tight end, but a great back-up to own since he could become your starter. Those first-year starting quarterbacks almost always love their tight ends.

Tony Scheffler - DEN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006 DEN 11 18 286 15.9 4 1 3  
2007 DEN 16 49 549 11.2 5      
Avg   14 34 418 13.6 5 1 2 0
Proj DEN   50 580   5      

In just his second season, Scheffler turned in a very respectable 549 yards on 49 catches and scored five times. He averaged almost 50 yards per game in the second half of the season and had three of his touchdowns. Cutler already had been connecting with him as a rookie and 2007 only strengthened their chemistry. During the offseason, Scheffler lost 15 pounds and is down to 250 pounds. That makes him a worse blocker (which he was never great at anyway) and better as a receiver.

Denver has a slew of receivers this year but none have the sort of chemistry yet with Cutler that Scheffler has. At the very least, Scheffler should provide decent fantasy numbers for the first half of the season until the passing game can integrate the newer wideouts and even then, the Broncos schedule is tough enough that having an outlet like Scheffler will continue to post numbers. He makes a great #2 tight end and could end up playing well enough to warrant being your starter. Scheffler reinjured his foot in May but this year it was not broken and he is expected to be fine for training camp.

Tier 3
Vernon Davis - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006 SFO 9 20 265 13.3 3 2 5  
2007 SFO 14 52 509 9.8 4      
Avg   12 36 387 11.6 4 1 3 0
Proj SFO   55 580   5      

Bad news for the tight end that was supposed to be the freak of the 2006 NFL draft. Mike Martz is now the offensive coordinator and brings a scheme that has never, ever, used the tight end for much more than blocking, if in fact there is even one on the field during the many spread formations. Davis comes off a 52 catch game with 509 yards and four scores but that was with him being a “featured” player in the offense. He has dropped passes and run incorrect routes. His play has been error-prone and that is not something that will set well with Martz who demands precision.

This doesn’t mean Davis has no chance, but he does have more of an uphill battle this year to even match 2007 production. Davis could be split out to the slot or outside and make for interesting match-ups but he needs to show he can learn the new offense in training camp. The best Davis will likely be this year is a fantasy back-up.

08-01-08 Update: Small adjustment upwards for Davis who has been of particular interest and focus by OC Mike Martz. That system has never used a tight end and Davis has been a relaitve bust with durability problems since joining the league but this could be his best opportunity. He's too risky to be a starting TE but would make a great back-up tight end from his potential.

Greg Olsen - CHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006                  
2007 CHI 14 39 391 10.0 2      
Avg   14 39 391 10.0 2 0 0 0
Proj CHI   55 590   4      

(+Upside) When the Bears drafted Olsen with their 1.31 pick last year, it had little to do with needing another blocker. Olsen was the first tight drafted and came into the league as a receiving tight end. His rookie season saw him post 39 catches for 391 yards and two scores and he did record at least one reception in his seven final games. Five times he had four or more catches and for a rookie, he had a very solid and promising season. And of course, most stud tight ends will break out in their second season. Desmond Clark still posted bigger numbers but that will change this season.

Going against that chance is the likelihood that Kyle Orton remains the starting quarterback. In three common games last year, Olsen only had five catches for 45 yards but that was a small sample to rely on and Orton will have to do more if he expects to hold on to his job. Clark will still figure in as well, so Olsen won’t be getting all the tight end action anyway.

But just as important is that Olsen is a talented receiver who still had a good rookie year and heads into his second season with a team that just dumped all the notable wideouts from 2007 and replaced them with even bigger question marks. The Bears also are facing one of the easiest passing schedules in the league which should benefit Olsen. It is a bit of optimism to expect any Chicago receiver to carry much fantasy value but Olsen is in a situation where he will improve from 2007 and could surprise if the Bears will use him to his potential.

Ben Watson - NEP YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 NEP 14 29 441 15.2 4      
2006 NEP 13 49 645 13.2 3      
2007 NEP 12 36 389 10.8 6 1 11  
Avg   13 38 492 13.1 4 0 4 0
Proj NEP   44 490   5      

After three seasons of improving play, Watson started 2008 on a tear with five scores in his first five games including a six catch, 107 yard effort against the Browns in week five that saw him score twice. But then he suffered an ankle injury the following week and was dogged by it the rest of the year. He missed four games and played at a far less effective level the rest of the season. In the first playoff game, he was back with two catches for two touchdowns and then only had one more catch in the remaining two games.

During the offseason, Watson underwent ankle surgery to repair cartilage damage and remove scar tissue. He is expected to be back to full strength no later than the start of the season if not for the entire preseason. Watson underplayed the importance of the surgery as any true Patriot would. His best season – before the addition of Moss and Welker – had him gaining 643 yards and three scores which is not enough to warrant being a fantasy starter. Add in playing for a team that makes a mockery of the injury report and he cannot be considered more than a fantasy back-up this year.

Kevin Boss - NYG YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006                  
2007 NYG 13 9 118 13.1 2      
Avg   13 9 118 13.1 2 0 0 0
Proj NYG   40 520   4      

The rookie was impressive in replacing Jeremy Shockey for the final three games. He did not have a catch in week 16 but scored in both weeks 15 and 17 with a high game of four catches for 50 yards against the Patriots. During the playoffs, Boss had exactly one catch in each game and did not score. As a rookie it was overall encouraging enough that the Giants shopped Shockey around in the offseason but found no takers. Boss will have a minimal role this year but will fill in when Shockey misses his annual “out for one game”.

07-21-08 Update: Boss gets a healthy bump up in the rankings thanks to the trade of Jeremy Shockey to the Saints. Boss was impressive as a rookie and while he won't produce Shockey-esque numbers this year, his production obviously jumps.

Alge Crumpler - TEN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 ATL 16 65 877 13.5 5      
2006 ATL 16 56 780 13.9 8      
2007 TEN 14 42 444 10.6 5      
Avg   15 54 700 12.7 6 0 0 0
Proj TEN   40 500   4      

After seven seasons with the Falcons, Crumpler signed a two-year, $5.25 million contract with the Titans and brings the sort of tight end that Steve Young needs. In Atlanta, Crumpler was good for around 700 to 800 yards and around six scores per year when he was the primary receiving option in that offense. It could easily happen again here since the Titans have always relied on their tight ends.

One note of caution here is that there is some speculation that Crumpler has a degenerative knee condition and many teams initially were interested in him but dropped out. HC Jeff Fisher is most excited about Crumpler’s ability to score and that is definitely something that this passing game needs. He’s probably not going to rekindle his glory days in Atlanta now that he is 30 years old but he should be no less than solid and could become a primary target near the endzone.

Tier 4
Donald Lee - GBP YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 GBP 13 33 294 8.9 2      
2006 GBP 11 10 150 15.0        
2007 GBP 15 48 575 12.0 6      
Avg   13 30 340 12.0 3 0 0 0
Proj GBP   49 530   3      

After three seasons with the Packers, Lee finally took over as the primary tight end during 2007 and turned in an impressive 48 catches for 575 yards and six scores. That was almost double his four year career totals in every category. He did most of his damage early in the year with receptions and yardage but scored all but one touchdown in the second half of the season. Now that Bubba Franks is gone, Lee is the clear passing option at tight end which could account for more this year as Aaron Rodgers takes over. First year quarterbacks typically like to rely on their tight ends but in the Packers case, that may not be true since there will be many spread formations that will not use a tight end. A very solid pick as a back-up tight end for your team, he can be used as a starter. In any case, he won’t be a difference maker for you either way.

Heath Miller - PIT YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 PIT 15 39 459 11.8 6      
2006 PIT 16 34 393 11.6 5      
2007 PIT 16 47 566 12.0 7      
Avg   16 40 473 11.8 6 0 0 0
Proj PIT   39 450   4      

Miller comes off a career best season with 47 catches for 566 yards and seven touchdowns in the new offense installed last season which should be reason to expect the same or better this year but that probably won’t happen. Through week ten of 2007, Miller had 421 yards on 31 catches and six of his seven scores. The final six weeks only saw him score once and total of 155 yards on 16 catches. He bounced back in the first playoff game with 85 yards and a score but that was with Parker gone and the Steelers searching for anyone to help. This year the Steelers have added Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed plus return Parker, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Chances are Roethlisberger will have plenty of targets besides his tight end.

Ben Troupe - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 TEN 15 55 530 9.6 4      
2006 TEN 10 13 150 11.5 2      
2007 TBB 16 5 47 9.4   1 -1  
Avg   14 24 242 10.2 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   40 430   4      

(+Upside) Troupe signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers to provide a challenge to Alex Smith for the starting job. Troupe peaked in his second season with the Titans when he caught 55 passes for 530 yards and scored four times but the last two seasons with Vince Young has seen him little used and often injured. He only managed 18 catches and two scores in those seasons and is ready for a change of place.

The Buccaneers have not seen Alex Smith take the next step though he has been adequate. This is actually the perfect chance for Troupe to get a “do-over” for his career with a team that uses tight ends for 50+ catches each season and that threw nine scores to the position in 2007. There is a chance that Troupe and Smith just cancel each other out and neither have much fantasy value this year but – if either is to step up, it will more likely be Troupe. His touchdown totals could be good this year since Jerramy Stevens had four scores on just 18 catches and even Anthony Becht turned in two touchdowns in 2007. The tight ends in Tampa Bay caught more touchdowns than all wideouts combined. In a position that has so few sleepers that make a difference, Troupe is an interesting back-up tight end for your team that could surprise and if not, there’s always another tight end to cover a bye week on your waiver wire.

Dustin Keller - NYJ YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006                  
2007                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj NYJ   36 410   4      

(+Upside) Searching for a difference maker on the offense, the Jets traded their second and fourth round picks to the Packers in order to draft Keller with the 1.30 selection. He became the first tight end drafted in 2008 and comes in for one reason – to be a receiver. Keller is no blocker and did very little of it in college. But he excelled at Purdue where he was a wide receiver but bulked up and became a dangerous tight end. At 6’3” and 244 pounds, he is freakishly fast with 4.5/40 speed in a position where most top players are running 4.7 or worse. He has great hands and can make the difficult catches even when the pass is not thrown well – that will serve him very well on the Jets.

Keller has definite dynasty value because he should develop into a very good NFL tight end limited only by what the quarterback situation is. But bad quarterbacks often prefer to rely on their tight ends anyway. He will share time with a very pissed off Chris Baker this year and then likely take over as the primary in 2009 – if he doesn’t do that during the this season. This is no blocker. He is a very dangerous weapon used correctly and it speaks volumes that he was drafted prior to any wideouts this year.

08-07-08 Update: It is still early to expect much more than a normal rookie season with marginal productivity but the addition of Favre is a big help for Keller's learning curve.

Ben Utecht - CIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 IND 4 3 59 19.7 2      
2006 IND 13 37 377 10.2        
2007 CIN 14 31 364 11.7 1      
Avg   10 24 267 13.9 1 0 0 0
Proj CIN   36 400   4      

(+Upside) Utecht could be an interesting player to track this year. The Bengals signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract when four years in the NFL have only produced a total of 800 yards and three touchdowns. Utecht could help the rushing game as a blocker but OC Bob Bratkowski has indicated that Utecht could help pick up the slack now that Chris Henry is gone. That notion is hard to accept considering that the Bengals ranked 32nd in the league with only 43 passes thrown to tight ends last year. It has been many years and several offensive coordinators since the Bengals used tight ends for much more than blocking and even then, it was platooning three of them.

The Bengals drafted three wideouts hoping to compensate for the loss of Chris Henry and the potential loss/holdout of Chad Johnson so there shouldn’t be a shortage of receivers though the quality may be lagging. Utecht has never caught more than 37 passes in a season and the Bengals would have to almost reinvent their scheme to start using the position with any regularity. Add in the team wants more spread formations to hopefully reduce the defense stacking against the run and Utecht would do well enough to match 2007. There us upside here but make sure Utecht is nothing more than a backup for your team.

Anthony Fasano - MIA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006 DAL 13 14 126 9.0        
2007 MIA 16 14 143 10.2 1      
Avg   15 14 135 9.6 1 0 0 0
Proj MIA   35 360   3      

No doubt at Bill Parcell’s direction, the Dolphins traded a 2009 fourth round pick with the Cowboys in exchange for Fasano and throw-in LB Akin Ayodele. With David Martin showing inconsistency last year, the new offense will see Fasano take over in Miami after twiddling his thumbs behind Jason Witten in Dallas. The tight end will be more heavily used in the new offense by OC Dan Henning and Fasano will get the lion’s share of that action. In two seasons in Dallas, Fasano only had 14 catches both seasons and has scored only once but those numbers will increase this year. Fasano makes an interesting back-up tight end for your team with some upside.

Marcedes Lewis - JAC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006 JAC 9 13 126 9.7 1      
2007 JAC 16 37 391 10.6 2      
Avg   13 25 259 10.2 2 0 0 0
Proj JAC   35 350   2      

After a rookie season that only saw him catch 13 passes for 126 yards, Lewis improved to 37 receptions for 391 yards and two scores. That will likely prove to be his ceiling in this offense that has improved the wideouts for this season. Lewis also tailed off over the final month with only five catches for 63 yards and two games that had no catches. He makes a fantasy back-up tight end and nothing more.

Desmond Clark - CHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 CHI 13 24 229 9.5 2      
2006 CHI 16 45 626 13.9 6      
2007 CHI 16 44 545 12.4 4      
Avg   15 38 467 11.9 4 0 0 0
Proj CHI   35 330   2      

Clark enters his tenth NFL season and sixth with the Bears. He comes off one of his better seasons with 545 yards and six scores but Greg Olsen is entering his second year and will almost certainly take over as the primary receiving tight end – which is why they drafted him. But Clark will continue to figure in as a blocker and should still carry some fantasy value. The Bears have a very attractive passing schedule this year and the wideouts are all new on the team. That should let Clark still matter as a receiver for at least the first half of the season if not beyond. He’s not worthy of being a fantasy starter but may be worth a bye week fill-in if the Bears struggle to rush again and are forced to throw.

Leonard Pope - ARI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006 ARI 14 16 161 10.1        
2007 ARI 13 23 238 10.3 5      
Avg   14 20 200 10.2 3 0 0 0
Proj ARI   26 240   3      

While there was some hope that the demise of Denny Green’s offense would usher in the actual use of the tight end in Arizona, HC Ken Whisenhunt did not use the position nearly as much as hoped. Pope had the best season for an Arizona tight end in years and did score five touchdowns. But he only caught 23 passes for 238 yards. The second year of the offense could see some increase here but it was rare for there to be more than two passes thrown to the position in any given week and Pope suffered a dislocated ankle and missed the final three games of the regular season.

Pope was used as a goal line option and little else since Fitzgerald and Boldin continued to dominate the box scores every week. At 6’8”, Pope is one of the tallest players in the entire NFL but he could see some challenge this year from Jerame Tuman who had played for the Steelers. Tuman is primarily a blocker though and is coming off a back injury, so expect Pope to continue to be the primary receiving tight end. Unfortunately, the new scheme still has not involved the position much other than the occasional endzone pass.

08-03-08 Update: Leonard Pope is still slow to get back from his ankle injury of last year and Ben Patrick has been taking first team snaps. This doesn't make Patrick that attractive but it does send Pope down in the rankings.

Visanthe Shiancoe - MIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 NYG 9 8 91 11.4        
2006 NYG 11 12 81 6.8        
2007 MIN 16 27 323 12.0 1      
Avg   12 16 165 10.1 0 0 0 0
Proj MIN   24 300   2      

Shiancoe got out from under Jeremy Shockey’s shadow in 2007 when he signed with the Vikings just in time to see Adrian Peterson take over and make the tight end position worth even less. Shiancoe finished the year with only 27 catches for 323 yards and one score. Over the final six weeks, he only had eight catches for 51 yards. No need to draft him. His only touchdown wasn’t even thrown by Tarvaris Jackson.

John Carlson - SEA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006                  
2007                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj SEA   26 280   2      

The Seahawks used their 2.07 pick in the NFL draft to grab Carlson as the second tight end drafted this year. The Notre Dame product comes in at 6’5” and 252 pounds and brings the promise of the best receiving tight end that Hasselbeck has ever had. He runs a 4.7/40 and has the height and hands to become a very nice target for a team that has been spreading the ball around more in recent years. He is a rookie and will take some time to learn the ropes but there is a chance that he not only will become the primary tight end this year, he could challenge in training camp. If he can play well enough in the preseason to become the #1 tight end, he will have fantasy value in this offense. He won’t likely have enough work to warrant being a starter but he is one to watch and a nice pick in a dynasty league for 2009.

Ben Patrick - ARI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 45
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005                  
2006                  
2007 ARI 8 7 73 10.4 2      
Avg   8 7 73 10.4 2 0 0 0
Proj ARI   20 230   2      

Patrick enters his second season and had two scores as a rookie but only seven passes. He has little or no fantasy value and could lose out to Jerame Tuman who was signed for two years in the offseason. The Cardinals have not involved the tight ends enough to warrant even a free agent pick on Patrick if Pope was to be injured again.

   
Go To Tight End Rankings 31 - END >>

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